04/5/17

Easy Oven Pulled Pork: Good to Great in 4 Steps

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I’m going to un-rein my ego for just a moment to say…I make great pulled pork.

In fact, I make amazing pulled pork, and it’s always hugely popular at our cook-outs (not as popular as Chef Chris’ smoked brisket, but let’s not get into THAT, right now…)

That said, I cringe every time see these recipes for “Amazing Pulled Pork in the Crock-pot!”…um, I don’t think so.

Not to diss anyone’s favorite recipe, ’cause I’m sure it’s good, but I don’t understand the whole crock-pot thing. You’re not roasting, you’re steaming, and steaming won’t create that awesome brown bark that’s so loaded with the flavor that makes pulled pork so amazing!

There’s also some technical differences in the cooking temp and times involved that effect how the collagen in the meat becomes gelatine, and creates a completely different texture in the finished product…but I won’t get all Alton Brown on you in this post.

I think you can get GOOD pulled pork from a slow cooker, but I’ve tried many, many of these recipes, and honestly? I have a sneaking suspicion that anyone who thinks they’re “amazing”…has never had amazing pulled pork.

That’s 20 years of doing old-fashioned pit-smoked bbq, talking!

(…and, no…what I’m talking about here isn’t as good as that, but I’ll swear on my favorite sauce recipe that it’s the next best thing!)

The crazy part it, it’s just not that much harder to make it this way… but the end result is so much better!

Amazing Pulled Pork in the Oven!
Perfect oven pulled pork(Above: your perfect pork shoulders, about 8 hours in.)

Here it is, so easy…

  1. Coat 1 boneless pork shoulder heavily in rub, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Mix 1 cup each hot water, apple juice, and cider vinegar, with 1/4 cup mesquite liquid smoke, and pour into the pan with the shoulder.
  3. Roast, uncovered, fat side up, in a 225 oven for 14 hours (overnight works great). Remove from oven and allow to rest 30-45 minutes.
  4. Drain off the juices, shred the meat (two forks work great) and mix back in the broth. Let rest another 15 minutes, and serve.

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

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Again, I hope I’m not offending anyone, but if it doesn’t have bark, it isn’t pulled pork.

If you disagree, try this recipe and then tell me so!

– Chef Perry

PS – Lookin’ for an awesome pork dry rub? Check out the one we use on our Perfect Oven Pork Ribs…just as tasty on pork shoulder, believe me…I know! :)




04/1/17

It is done

The Home Chef Book

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

IT’S DONE.

How do you write a book on how to save the world?

When I started this project, over two years ago, I had no idea how all-encompassing it would become. Unlike my blog, or the “Caja” cookbooks, which practically write themselves, this was more than just how-to’s and recipes (though, rest assured, there are plenty of those), this manuscript included deep, wide, unpredictable rivers of philosophy and conviction, unexplored dark chasms of learned opinion, personal bias, and (often cynical) worldview, as well.

It was easy to get lost. The sheer volume of hubris, alone, required to assume such a goal is exhausting.

Every idea, it seemed, birthed two more, and each of those two more again, growing exponentially into a fertile rabbit-warren of thoughts, questions, arguments, and hundreds of hours of research, fact-checking, testing, photography, formatting, and more than a dozen re-writes (In fact, I ditched the whole damn thing, twice, as just being too much of an information dump.)

The toll on myself and my family was much higher than I could have expected in the beginning, but it would have been impossible without their amazing patience, support, and occasional kick in the ass.

But here we are. Today, the book releases, it is done…

Consummatum est.

So, how do you write a book on how to save the world?

As someone once said, it’s a bit like watching hippos have sex. Scary in places, hilarious in others, a little awkward, and once it gets going, you want to stay out of its way.

Most of all…you’ll know when it’s done.

It’s done.

Enjoy…

~Chef P

11/7/16

Basic Knife Skills that will keep all your fingers attached

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This is the first lesson we teach the kids in the MY KITCHEN Outreach Program…

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

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11/3/16
the difference between stuffing & dressing

The difference between dressing and stuffing

the difference between stuffing & dressing

With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, I posted a very brief chef’s rant on this subject a couple of days ago, and I was amazing to learn how many people actually didn’t know the difference between “stuffing” and “dressing”.

So…

It’s only “stuffing” if you cook it INSIDE the bird. If you cook it OUTSIDE the bird, it’s “dressing” (A dressing is placed around the protein on a plate or platter, to “dress” the dish.)

Want some more great holiday tips and recipes? Check out or free Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide!

Typically, I do both…what doesn’t fit inside the turkey is baked in a dish. Then we mix the two together to spread the tasty flavor if the turkey drippings throughout.

Doesn’t stuffing from inside the bird make you sick?

Oh, and I had a friend on FaceBook ask: I always thought stuffing was the best way to give everyone salmonella for thanksgiving, what are your thoughts?”

My response:

Nah, but then I don’t think that Elvis was abducted by aliens and is still alive on the planet Zorb, either.

The stuffing myth is based on the stuffing staying in the “danger zone” for an extended period of time.

MY  KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

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newsletter:

The three rules of safe stuffing:

1. Never stuff a bird with cold stuffing, as the meat will dry out long before the stuffing is cooked. Always stuff with cooked (or at least heated) stuffing,

2. Stuffing should be COOKED in the bird, not LEFT in it. Remove stuffing from the bird while still hot, and serve separately.

3. Not quite as important as the first two, but not a bad idea…once you remove the stuffing from the bird, spoon it into a casserole dish and pop it under the broiler for 10-15 minutes (watch closely so it doesn’t burn) or until it reaches an internal temp of 165F.

The added bonus to this step is you get a lovely, golden, breadcrumb crust across the whole surface.

Thanksgiving stuffing in muffin pans

If you want to fancy this up a bit, brown the stuffing in a muffin pan, and serve individually.

So, no…I’m not concerned with the “no stuffing” myth, follow the safety rules, and you’ll be fine.

Personally, I’d be more worried about getting sick from a grocery store turkey! 😉

A better way

By the way, there is a third option, which I feel…in my not-so-humble opinion…trumps both of the aforementioned styles. Check it out in yesterday’s “Perfect Turkey” post!

This has been a public service announcement, we now return you to your regularly scheduled political griping and Starbucks bashing… :)

Chef Perry
joinmykitchen.com

09/20/16
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Making soup…Samurai style

Perfect chicken soup recipe

Okay, first things first, a couple of statements to divert the inevitable snarky, know-it-all, blog-nazi  comments…

I know that “Asian” is a common generality, which is typically a bad thing in most subjects and even more so when plastered over the subject of cuisine…

I know that “Samurai” (or more correctly “Bushi”) were specifically the military nobility and officer caste of medieval and early-modern Japan, and not any of the other countries I reference…

I know that these two words are then, obviously, a contradiction in terms…

HOWEVER…that said, ‎I like alliteration, it’s my blog, and it makes for a snappy post title, so I’m going with it. 😉

Okay…done with that.

The reason for this post, and recipe, is that after much happy experimentation, I am of the not-so-humble opinion, that “Asian” cultures are the gods of broth and stock-based soups (cream soups and bisques, stews and chowders, I might give the nod to France, but this ain’t that post…)

That said, what makes the soups of Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, etc., etc., so amazing is more about technique than ingredients…though they certainly have some amazing ingredients…the most basic difference between how “they” make soup, and how “we” make soup, is technique, most importantly the technique of prepping each individual ingredient separately for optimum taste, instead of simply tossing them in a pot (or, God-forbid, a slow cooker) to become a one-note burbling homogeneous cauldron of meh.

Example: If you’ve ever seem a properly prepared bowl of pho being made, and you really should, it’s amazing…you’ll note that the bowl is first loaded with cold cooked noodles, cold cooked meat, and raw veggies, then, filled with boiling-hot stock, to bring everything to a balanced temp.

This allows each ingredient to maintain its own specific flavor and  uniqueness, but still maintain the crunchy texture of the veggies, the perfect texture of the meat (brisket and tendon, please) and the chewy elasticity of properly cooked noodles (this, btw, is the same reason that ramen is best when the noddles are cooked, cooled, and the dipped in hot stock at the last moment, on the way to the mouth).

So, I said to myself, “Self…what if I tried this classic style, this “cook first, then assemble” technique, of Asian-style soup cooking, with that most classic of Western soups, Chicken Vegetable. (The fact that my wife and daughter are sharing a horrific cold this week, didn’t hurt in the decision making process of the test subject, either…)

So, here we go! (Spoiler: it’s awesome…)

Chicken Vegetable Soup using “Asian” Techniques

For the stock:
Bones and skin of 1 rotisserie-roasted chicken
1 whole head of roasted garlic
1 cup roasted carrots, chopped
1 cup roasted celery, chopped
1 lemon, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped and packed
2 Tbs. fine sea salt
1 Tbs. ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. whole fennel seed

1/4 cup sweet cream butter

For the soup:
3 ears fresh sweet corn, cut from cob
2 cups carrot rounds
2 cups celery chunks
1/2 cup shallot, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 cups diced rotisserie chicken

The best Chicken Soup Recipe

Rotisserie Chicken (I prefer Costco)

Debone one whole rotisserie chicken, save bones for stock, and meat for soup.

Roasting veggies for chicken soup

Roast celery, carrots, and onions on at 450F oven until browned (but not burned).

Best chicken soup recipe

Combine chicken bones, skin, roasted garlic, ginger, parsley, lemon, fennel seeds, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Add roasted veggies, cold water to cover, and bring to a simmer.

Best chicken soup recipe

Dice carrots, celery, shallot, ginger, and set aside.

Best chicken soup recipe

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

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Cut fresh corn kernels from ears, set aside.

Chicken soup stock

Strain meat and veggies from stock, and whisk in butter.

Veggies for chicken soup recipe

Pan-sear diced carrots, celery, shallot, and ginger i a little stock, until just starting to soften. Add a little salt and pepper to taste.

The best chicken soup recipe

Assemble pulled chicken, sauteed veggies, and raw corn in a bowl.

Perfect chicken soup recipe

Ladle simmering broth over the top of the veggies, taste for salt and pepper, and top with fresh chopped Italian parsley.

Perfect chicken soup recipe

Optional additions: Rice noodles, soy sauce, Thai fish sauce, jalapeno slices, Sriachi sauce.

ENJOY!

Chef Perry

 

08/1/16
How to reheat an IN-N-OUT burger

How to reheat an IN-N-OUT (or any) Burger

In N Out Burger Double Double

Had the good fortune to stop at the Medford, Oregon IN-N-OUT Burger last night on our way home from the International Food Blogger Conference in Sacramento.

I, of course, grabbed a half dozen extras to bring home for the fam. When I finally rolled in around 1am, I was too exhausted to eat, so the whole box went into the fridge for later, and I collapsed into bed.

This morning, I posted a picture of my treasure on Facebook, and a friend of mine replied, Hamburgers taste horrible after being refrigerated.

To which I replied, “Not if you know how to reheat them, they don’t.

In retrospect, I realized (as  I often do…) that my knee-jerk response, while correct, was a little snarky and not particularly helpful. Also that, while perhaps a bit of a buzz-kill, my friend was technically correct ~ a cold, congealed burger is a pretty awful thing.

God doesn’t want that.

So, in the sincere hope that nothing as glorious as a Double Double Animal Style is ever eaten chilled, or even worse, microwaved, I give you…

How to reheat an IN-N-OUT Burger

How to reheat an IN-N-OUT Burger

First of all…never, EVER, reheat a burger fully assembled!

Microwaving is about the worst thing you can to to both ground-beef, and lettuce. The way the microwave works in by causing water molecules to vibrate at high speeds until they get hot. This is an instant method for draining all the good juices out of a burger patty, as well as rupturing the water-holding cells in your lettuce, turning it into limp, gray, sludge.

  1. Take the veggies off and put them back in the fridge. If you can’t replace them with fresh, shock them in a little ice water just before serving (be sure to pat them dry.) This will crisp them back up…some.

How to reheat an IN-N-OUT Burger

  1. Seal the buns, single layer, in a zip bag, and set aside at room temp.

How to reheat an IN-N-OUT Burger

3.  Heat 1/4 inch of chicken stock or water in a microwave-safe container (with a lid) big enough to lay   the burger/cheese patties in a single layer. Heat the liquid until steaming, then set the patties in (liquid should not cover, just be on the bottom). Set the bagged buns on top. Place the lid on and set aside for 2-3 minutes.

 

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

  1. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

How to reheat an IN-N-OUT Burger

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  1. If the buns are soggy out of the fridge, you can toast them, cut sides down, in a dry pan first (optional), or if they’re just plain cheap burger buns, use fresh one (they’re like 8 for a dollar, you cheap bastard…)
  1. When meat has heated through, and the cheese is soft, drain the patty on a paper towel, reassemble and enjoy!

How to reheat a hamburger

You can do the same in a liddled skillet. Just make sure it’s off the heat (move to a cold burner) before adding the meat.

How to reheat a hamburger

Personal opinion: ANY hot sandwich, once assembled, should be wrapped fully in foil and allowed to “rest” at least 5 minutes.

 

05/10/16
Super easy chicken stock

The easy way to make real chicken stock

easy oven roasted chicken thighs

A good chicken stock is the key to so many great dishes in the kitchen. It’s the base for your pan sauces, gravies, flavoring for rice, pasta, and potato dishes, and a fantastic steaming medium for fresh, seasonal veggies. It’s the Chef’s go to for thinning, and deglazing pans.

Growing up in my father’s restaurants, the first thing we did after turning on the lights and firing up the fans, was to start chopping veggies and roasting bones for a giant pot of stock, which would simmer all day on a back burner, getting ladled out for specific dishes all night long.

But…that’s a lot of work in a restaurant, and even more work at home. So, let’s take a shortcut that will give us a delicious stock (in smaller quantity) to use in your recipes, and keep us away from that nasty, salty, bullion water that comes in boxes and cans.

For this stock you’ll need just four ingredients…
(per quart of stock)

  • 1 gallon distilled water
  • 4 deli roasted (not fried) chicken thighs, bone in/skin on
  • 4 stalks of fresh celery, diced*
  • 2 shallots, chopped

(Other great ingredients you can add are sliced mushrooms, fresh peeled garlic, Italian parsley, carrots (for sweetness), fresh basil, etc.)

Be careful adding salt, or salty ingredients, as it will effect the seasonings in your final dishes.

*Volatile compounds in celery (3-n-butylphthalide, sedanenolide, and sedanolide), enhance the umami flavors in chicken and other poultry stocks. That’s one reason that celery is often a key ingredient in chicken-based soups and turkey stuffing.

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

 

Super easy chicken stock

Add all ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, and cook until reduced by half (about 90 minutes), chopping up the chicken thighs as they get tender.

Super easy chicken stock

Strain your stock and dispose of solids. Return the liquid to the pot (after wiping the pot clean), and bring back to a simmer. Cook until reduced by half, again.

NOW, taste your stock and adjust salt and seasoning.

Wing tip chicken stock recipe

If you would like to reduce the amount of fat in your stock (I don’t, lol) refrigerate overnight, and then remove the solid fat that rises to the top.

Wing tip chicken stock recipe

You can throw this fat away, or (better) save to to fry with as you would butter. Jewish cooking calls this fat “schmaltz” and it makes the best scrambled eggs ever!

Stock will keep 2-3 days in the fridge, or several months in the freezer. I like to freeze it in ice-cube trays, so it’s ready in pre-portioned cubes when I need it.

Wing tip chicken stock recipe

04/18/16
Reverse Seared Flat Iron Steak

Mastering the “Reverse Sear”

Reverse Seared Flat Iron Steak

The reverse-sear is one of my favorite methods for preparing a perfect steak.

In reverse searing, the meat is roasted on a rack in the oven first, then finished in a very hot skillet or pan. Cooking your steak in the oven first, drys the outside of the steak (a good thing) while slowly cooking the inside and keeping it tender. Also, when the surface of the steak is dry, it will then sear faster and more efficiently in a hot pan, forming a that ideal crust.

Here’s how I did this beautiful flat iron steak (a very underappreciated cut, in my not-so-humble opinion!)

Reverse sear flat iron steak

6-8 hours prior to cooking:

Pat the steak dry on both sides and season generously with coarse sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in fridge. One hour prior to cooking, remove from fridge, unwrap, and let sit (on a rack) on the counter for one hour.

A note on salting: There’s a lot of debate on when and how to salt a steak. I’ve learned, through much trail and error, that I prefer to season my steaks 6-8 hours prior to cooking. This allows the salt to help break down the protein in meat, making it more tender.  Initially, the salt draws out moisture, which is why many folks don’t think you should use it prior to cooking, but given enough time, meat will re-absorbs that moisture, which is now flavored with salt and therefore adds more succulent flavor to the meat. It’s the same principle used when brining a chicken or turkey.”

Preheat the oven to 275F and place the steak (still on the rack) on a baking sheet and place in the oven. (The baking sheet lets the hot air to circulate around the entire steak, cooking it evenly.) Roast your steak until the internal temperature hits 125F – about 45-60 minutes.

Drizzle a little oil in a skillet over high heat, until just starting to smoke (open some windows!)

Carefully set the steak in the hot oil and cook for 2 minutes on each side, turning only once.


MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.
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Reverse Seared Flat Iron Steak

I like to add a healthy knob of butter along with some fresh garlic, thai basil, sliced mushrooms, sliced shallots, and rosemary to the pan and constantly baste the steak by spooning this mixture over it while cooking.

Remove steak from skillet and set aside to rest 10 minutes before thin slicing against the grain.

You can serve this with the mushrooms, or just deglaze the pan with a little red wine and a splash of red wine vinegar, scraping up those tasty brown bits, and reducing the liquid by half for a delicious pan sauce.

Best. Steak. Ever!

Enjoy,

Chef Perry
www.joinmykitchen.com

02/27/16

Updating your pantry: 3 tips for a healthier kitchen

Pantry by Affordable Custom Closets

Many folks, either when finally deciding to get healthy, or “gettin’ back on the horse” have to do some major overhauls of the food they eat, and, therefore, the food they stock.

In my business, I plan very different menus and recipes each week, and am often picking up foods or ingredients that I haven’t worked with before.

I’ve learned (mostly the hard way) some tips to survive diet, menu, and pantry make-overs.

Here are my top three:

When changing up your pantry…

1. Don’t go buy a ton of food you’ve never eaten.

Try to stick to healthier versions of what you know (1% milk instead of 2%, lowfat yogurt instead of full-fat, etc), and add 2-3 “new foods” each trip.

This will keep you from finding your pantry overflowing (and your wallet empty) in a few months with a bunch of stuff you don’t like, and won’t eat.

2. Buy new foods in small portions. Based on tip #1 – if you like the ingredient, you can always go back and buy more, but a 25lb bag of brown rice takes up a LOT of space…especially if you won’t eat it. The “bulk foods” section of your store, or your local farmer’s market, can be a great place to get small portions!

3. Buy what you like to eat (referring to “real food”), and practice portion control instead of deprivation.

A little butter is NOT bad for you…pouring half a cup of it on your “steamed” veggies is. A baked potato is NOT bad for you…a bag of frozen French fries in one serving, is.

Portion control is key, you have trained your body and your mind to respond to certain “drugs”…you can’t just expect to cut them off cold turkey (pardon the pun). In the long term, deprivation will lead to failure every time.

Don’t be afraid to try new things, in fact, embrace new, healthy foods and ingredients. For many of us, variety and adventure are just as important as discipline (maybe more so) when it comes to sticking with a healthy lifestyle.

Hope that helps!

– Chef Perry
www.joinmykitchen.com

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

 

12/26/15
A MY KITCHEN student, learning basic knife skills.

How to use a kitchen knife, and keep your fingers intact

A MY KITCHEN student, learning basic knife skills.

A MY KITCHEN student, learning basic knife skills.


 

Got knives for Christmas?

Here’s a quick video I did with our friend Kaley Perkins, that covers a couple of the basic knife-handling skills that we teach the kids in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program

Stay safe out there! 😉

Chef Perry
joinmykitchen.com

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.